Feeling Fat, Fuzzy, or Frazzled

How to Interpret Your Lab Tests

In our new book FEELING FAT, FUZZY OR FRAZZLED? (Hudson Street/ Penguin 2005) we are recommending saliva testing as a superior method to evaluate hormone status. This process is useful for most of us, whether you are mildly affected by hormone imbalance, severely impacted and unable to function, or simply wondering if the hormone issue is a factor in your everyday health.

We have created an opportunity for health consumers to obtain saliva testing without necessarily working with a practitioner, though in our book we clearly suggest you work with someone trained in saliva testing and hormone balancing when possible. This testing, offered through the Canary Club, enables people to order saliva kits online, which are sent to you directly with simple instructions. Once you fill the enclosed tubes with saliva, you send the kit back and within 10 days after they have received your kit, results from your scores are posted on the canaryclub.org website.

What you're looking for with these tests is to find out whether you are totally normal in these three hormone arenas, or whether one or more is showing some abnormality. One of the most useful pieces of information, as discussed below, is to determine which of these three hormone systems is currently causing you the most difficulty.

Once you get your scores, then what?

First you need to interpret your tests. Here are some simple clues to help you do this:

1. Start with the thyroid panel first.
There are 4 separate determinations each measuring a different facet of your thyroid function.

A. TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone)
measures how much your brain and pituitary are asking for more thyroid. A higher than normal number indicates that your "control room" is asking your thyroid gland to produce more thyroid hormone, because your current levels are too low. Conversely, if your TSH is lower than normal, this means the amount of thyroid hormone now in your tissues is too high.
The ideal place to be on this measurement is in the lower third of normal range.

B. T4 (thyroxine - stable storage and transport form of thyroid hormone)
This is the actual level of the thyroid hormone that the thyroid gland makes and releases into the body. It is considered the "inactive" form, from which active thyroid hormone is made. The ideal level is to be in the middle third of the normal range.

C. T3 (thyronine or tri-iodothyronine - active thyroid hormone)
T3 measures the amount of thyroid hormone that has already been converted from T4 and is ready to go to work in your tissues. The ideal level is the middle third of normal range.

D. Thyroid peroxidase antibody (TPO or microsomal antibody test)
THis measures whether or not your system is making antibodies against the thyroid gland. A negative means "no, it isn't" ; a positive means "yes, it is making antibodies".
The ideal is to be negative, or "none".

2. Next, consider your reproductive hormone scores. Both genders have estrogen, progestone, and testosterone levels. The range of normal differs for males & females.

A. Estrogen - ideally this score falls in the middle third of the normal range, depending on whether you are having periods or postmenopausal, and if you're having periods if you were tested during the early (follicular) part of your cycle or the latter part of cycle (luteal). Normals are listed for each of these categories.

B. Progesterone - This is a hormone that is considered a balancer of estrogen levels. It is interpreted same as estrogen.

C. Free Testosterone - Measures androgen levels; you want to be ideally in middle of normal range.

3. Adrenal Testing (ASI or Adrenal Stress Index)

A. 4 sample cortisol levels (8 am, noon, 4 pm, 11 pm)
Ideal would be to be in middle of normal range listed as "Ref values" for each time.
Your score shows as dark black line entirely within the 2 dotted lines (upper dotted line = upper end of normal range, lower dotted line - lower end of normal range ) . Ideally you would be in the middle of those two dotted lines.

B. DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone). This is the main reservoir of all other adrenal hormones, and you want to be midline in the normal range of 3-10.

C. A third determination is the cortisol-DHEA correlation. In this instance, you are the tiny black square on graph to right of wording. You want your little black square to be within the normal range reference rectangle that is the smaller shaded part of the graph. If you are outside the normal reference area, the lower the number of the rectangle your square is in, the more normal your result.

4. Comparison of the Three Tests:

Ideal levels are basically the middle of normal range (except for TSH described above).

*If you were normal in thyroid and normal in reproductive hormones, but showed abnormals in adrenal testing, then you have a clear cut situation revealing that adrenal is your current major issue (in our book, this means you are the adrenal or emotional endo- type).

* If adrenal and reproductive testing was normal, and only thyroid showed problems, then you are the "physical" endocrine type, and should immediately begin recommendations as listed in FEELING FAT FUZZY OR FRAZZLED? for thyroid rebalancing.

* If reproductive problems alone show up, then you need to initiate rebalancing efforts for the mental endo-type as per our book.

If there are abnormalities that show up in your testing on two or more gland systems, you need to find your endocrine type by determining which set of results is most abnormal, according to the ideal ranges listed above. The most abnormal system is the one you begin to re-balance first. Then later, if still needed, you can re-balance the second most abnormal system according to the recommendations for over-the-counter products.

If there is controversy, be sure to include information gained in your self-evaluation questionnaires provided in chapter 3 of our book. Therefore, your next step would be to use the suggestions for immediate, intermediate, and long-term adrenal re-balancing.

If you are working with a practitioner, simply share these results with that person and strive to get their best input. Remember that everyone's approach is slightly different. Some practitioners would use this information to start you on over-the-counter products, then move you to prescription items if more help was needed.

If you or your practitioner would like help in interpreting these test results or in deciding on the best course of action based on these results, you may elect to have a coaching session with Dr. Shames. Simply go to www.feelingfff.com and preview the information related to telephone coaching sessions.

You can arrange for a "practitioner consultation" (25 minutes max. for a reduced fee) or you can speak with Dr. Shames for an hour for a prepaid appointment by telephone. Your practitioner can be included on conference call if needed.

We hope this information is helpful as you seek to reclaim your health!

Blessings on your journey, Karilee & Rich Shames
Authors: Feeling Fat, Fuzzy or Frazzled?


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